Hospital accident and emergency departments are among the National Health Service’s front-line troops in its continual fight to save life and limb.
Dedicated and hard-pressed A&E staff are there to tackle serious illness and injury – not relatively minor ailments which could be dealt with elsewhere. The clue’s in these departments’ title – emergency.
So we make no apology for repeating local health chiefs’ plea for patients to think carefully before turning up at Borders General Hospital’s A&E department. As an NHS Borders spokesperson said: “999 and A&E services should only be used for serious illnesses and injuries so that essential treatment is available to those who need it most”, suggesting instead pharmacists, GPs or minor injury units.
In other words, if BGH A&E is dealing with someone who could have gone elsewhere, then a fellow Borderer in dire need might have his or her treatment delayed – with perhaps tragic results.
The health authority’s appeal follows its revelation that more than 1,000 people attended the local A&E department during the festive fortnight – the biggest demand on the service since 2010’s harsh winter.
The pressure faced by the NHS UK-wide has been well documented – the recent headlines about some hospitals south of the border is testament to that.
Meanwhile, with a bit of thought, we could help ease that strain.